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Preventing Acoustic Guitar Feedback

Two tips for the price of one today. Both pertain to helping to prevent feedback of your hollow body or acoustic guitar during live performances. There are the obvious tricks like dinking with the volume and tuning the EQ to help minimize feedback, but here are two not so obvious techniques.

  1. String Dampening. Have you ever noticed that once you get the EQ tweaked it is usually the open strings that still tend to feedback or ring out of control? Try to dampen the strings a little bit. Just a little bit of felt on the close side of the nut (not the tuner side) will help a lot. One guitarist I know used to lightly tie a sock around the neck at the nut (he was gross in other ways too, but that’s another column). He claimed that the sock helped to minimize feedback and help to clean up some slop in his playing.

  2. Put your guitar out of phase. Sometimes this can work wonders. If you have one particular note that keeps ringing out of control simply invert the polarity of the signal between your guitar and the amp, PA, monitors, or whatever. The problem will absolutely go away, though it is possible that other problems may show up. Some guys I know use a foot switch that switches the polarity for them. As part of their sound check they can switch back and forth and see which position works better for the venue they’re in.

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